Dan and Jane return after a very long hiatus.  Inspired by Marlene’s terrific post and the impassioned discussion that it began amongst friends.

Jane: Dan!  I haven’t seen you forever.  How have you been?!

Dan: I’m sorry.  Do I know you?

Jane: It’s me, Jane.  We used to do 3 Geeks Point/Counter-point posts a couple of years ago?  You were the blowhard gasbag that was wrong about absolutely everything!

Dan: Oh! And you were the ignorant fool who incessantly contradicted me!  Yes, I remember now.  How have you been?

Jane: I’m well, I’m well.  Got promoted since we last talked.

Dan: Well, that makes sense, you do work in a law firm, right?

(Both laugh knowingly.)

Jane: I’m now the Chief Director of Innovative Solutions and Catering.  You know how things are, the firm is consolidating roles. I think I’ve got a new card in here somewhere.  Let me see…

Dan:  Oh, don’t bother. I don’t use business cards. I’ll look you up on LinkedIn.

Jane: No, no, no. It doesn’t work that way! This is a time honored tradition.  I give you a card. You give me a card. A bond is formed and we are connected.

Dan: That’s stupid. Then what do you do with all of the cards you collect?

Jane: I send LinkedIn invites to each of the people I meet and then throw away the card.

Dan: I thought you were one of those eco-terrorists, hell bent on saving the planet one tree at a time.

Jane: My cards are made of sustainable bamboo pulp, thank you very much!

Dan: I bet that costs a fortune.

Jane: It’s not cheap, but some things are worth paying more for.

Dan: At my suggestion, we did away with business cards entirely last year.  No one gets them.  We save about $800 per person per year.

Jane: But what does your firm lose in the process?

Dan: A lot of cards in the landfill?

Jane: No, you moron, in terms of good will and business relationships?

Dan: Uh…nothing?

Jane: Look, when I give you a card, I am symbolically giving you something of myself. I am quite literally trusting you with my personal identification. I am saying this is who I am and I want to share it with you. And then, you reciprocate. That creates a bond, a momentary relationship that cannot be ignored, whereas a LinkedIn invite actually has an ignore button.

Dan:  It does? Why would they do that?  The point of LinkedIn is to have as many contacts as possible. I am currently in second place in my group.

Jane: You are why they have an ignore button.

Dan: So if I take your stupid card and send you a LinkedIn invite, will you accept?

Jane: Are you asking because you want to cement our bond?

Dan: No, I’m just three contacts behind the guy in first place.

Jane: Then no.

Image [cc] Clive Darra

I started a very robust conversation with some colleagues the other day, including Dan and Jane of this site, who I am certain you will hear from soon, about a decision my team made to opt out of business cards. 

The initial conversation came up because I often get asked for cards.  I don’t carry them.  I haven’t for years.  I prefer not to carry paper around.  See, I have kids, and kids get into handbags.  Consequently, I don’t want to carry anything that is not essential, especially things that can be taken and squirreled away as “treasure”, making me spend hours searching for them to the chorus of “I don’t know where it is,” or items that can be can be used as a Chinese Stars or Mini-Frisbees.

 I tried the chic card holder, the antique card clip, stuffing cards in my wallet or pocket–none of them worked for me (the card-in-pocket idea caused a lot of laundry issues BTW).  My team and I discussed adopting QR codes on the cards and apps that scan cards, among other things, and finally came to the conclusion; why not just use our business contact info on our smart phones?

Through my discussion with colleagues, I uncovered a dizzying amount of opinions and questions.  The Artists loved their cards and expressed that when you give a card, you symbolically give something of yourself to the recipient.  The Technologists used LinkedIn (I use this as well).  The Socially-Minded voiced concern that not everyone has a business phone, much less a smart phone—there was also a side conversation here about use of private phones for business purposes,  The Environmentalists expressed dismay about the waste surrounding business cards.  The Opportunists summed it up by questioning how they would get a free lunch if they didn’t have cards to put in the fishbowl.  All valid points and food for thought, readers.

Ultimately, our team decision is an optional one.  No one is required to use their contacts as a connection mechanism, But we are raising it as a consideration.  It saves money and trees and keeps my lint screen clean.  Every little bit counts.